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Highways on fast track: 11km being built daily

Monday, November 21, 2011 12:56:25 PM
Posted in category Blog

Construction of highways, which had dipped to dismal levels over the past few years, has picked up pace. According to official data, 11km of roads are being added every day. 

If the trend is sustained, the UPA government could well be on track to achieving 20km per day by the time it completes its second term in 2014 as the pace of construction is likely to accelerate about two-fold in the next two years, thanks to a significant increase in the bidding for projects since 2010. Also, meticulous project management over the past two-and-a-half years, transparency in the bidding process and faster awarding of contracts have helped step up road building. Experts say the declining activity in other construction sectors such as real estate have shifted the attention of contractors to road construction. 

India’s highway construction attracted global attention when the NDA government under then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee built spanking new highways connecting major cities, cutting down travel time and boosting economic activity. 
‘Roping in private players helped highways work’ 

New Delhi: When the UPA took over in 2004, road building lost momentum after the frenetic pace at which work was carried out under the NDA. But senior ministry officials sounded optimistic about the progress in the next few months. “Usually, the pace of construction slows down during monsoon. We achieve greater progress during winter and summer, and are likely to cross the target of building 3,570 km by end-March,” an official said. 

National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) officials said the increase in the number of projects awarded in 2010-11, pegged at about 5,080 km, would help push construction. “Work on many of these stretches has started. Usually, construction is completed two years after a project is awarded. We are likely to see a major jump in the construction of highway stretches,” a senior NHAI official said. 

According to sources, highway construction and project awards saw a revival after Kamal Nath took charge as highways minister in 2009. The ministry’s performance improved after the NHAI awarded a record length of projects over the past two-and-a-half years. In the current fiscal year, the NHAI has awarded 2,591 km of highways, while another 1,700 km are likely to be awarded in the next two months. “It has increased because of the corrective steps taken by the government to encourage private players to participate in the bidding. With all other sectors involving civil construction, such as real estate, not doing well, the focus of developers has shifted to highways,” M Murali, secretary general of the National Highways Builders Federation, said. 

Experts said C P Joshi, who took charge of the ministry from Nath, has maintained continuity. They say the ministry and the NHAI have ushered in transparency in the bidding process, boosting sentiment. 

ROAD RACE Against target of 7,300km of national highways, NHAI has awarded 2,591km; another 2,659 km to be awarded in 4 months 8,917km NH built during NDA rule 17,236 km built during UPA-I tenure; 10,000km under UPA-II 

 
       

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